For today’s ISPWP member spotlight, we feature Halifax, Nova Scotia wedding photographer Emma Rose of Applehead Studio, Inc..
Emma Rose Bio:
Emma Rose is an award-winning ISPWP wedding photographer who got started in the industry 12 years ago. From film and darkroom to digital, Emma has been documenting weddings that artfully show an emotional side of the day.
How did you get your start and why did you choose wedding photography as a career?
I started photographing weddings by photographing my brother’s beautiful and simple sea-side wedding in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and by second-shooting weddings for a couple of established Vancouver wedding photographers. I love weddings. I love art. It seemed natural to see the two come together.
How has your extensive experience in wedding photography helped you in difficult circumstances on a wedding day?
I’ve photographed so many weddings over the last 12 years that I know something is always bound to go wrong. Usually it’s just one thing. So I tell brides that when something goes wrong, “there’s always something, it was relatively minor and now we’ve gotten that out of the way!”
Tell us about some of the more unique weddings you’ve shot.
I look at every wedding as being unique, there are always different people, different lighting conditions, different details and surprises. I once photographed an outdoor wedding set on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and when a thunderstorm rolled in during the [uncovered] ceremony, you couldn’t hear the vows over the sound of the rain and the thunder. Very few of the guests had umbrellas. And I heard about that wedding from prospective clients during a meeting the following week! So that wedding always stands out in my mind. I love to photograph cultural traditions such as stepping over the broom, hand fasting, giving bread, tea ceremonies, and placing of crowns. I love discovering what makes a wedding unique.
What is your favorite local venue?
I used to have an automatic answer for that, because I used to love outdoor weddings so much and Grand Pre was my favourite location for a wedding. Each time I go back to the hotels in Halifax though it seems they’ve renovated and become more beautiful (e.g., the Westin Hotel, Lord Nelson and Prince George have all recently been renovated), and I’ve changed the way I approach wedding photography so I’m not looking for the same things anymore… I really enjoy doing indoor shoots now because there are things to shoot through and reflect in. I had a lot of fun photographing a wedding that was entirely on board the tall ship Silva as it sailed, and I love shooting in restaurants like Murphy’s that have so much character. I recently photographed a wedding at a yacht club, the RNSYS’s Saraguay House, where they shot off fireworks over the Northwest Arm of Halifax Harbour, you can’t do that at just any venue, and it was fabulous!
What advice would you give a bride who is looking for a wedding photographer?
Go for style. Make sure your photographer has a style that suits you. If you’re not sure what styles there are or what appeals to you, do some research, look around (and not just locally), and decide which style you are most attracted to—do you want your photos to look like a magazine shoot, are you into lots of set-up photos, or do you want a documentary approach? Take a hard look at photographers’ portfolios, if there are things that bug you, things that are missing, things you don’t love, keep looking, you may not be a match. Meet with your photographer, ask them tons of questions, and email them to update them on things. Go for the engagement session if it’s in your budget. If you’re not feeling the connection, or they don’t get back to you, you may not have found the right photographer for you.
What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?
I love photographing the bride getting ready. There is so much promise to the day, so much to anticipate, wonder about, look forward to. Anything can happen!
What kinds of weddings do you love to photograph?
I love weddings where emotions are running high! I love it when people forget you’re around, where they let their emotions show, they hug, laugh, cry, exclaim, dance, and outwardly show their love, anxiety, sadness, joy!
What are your top tips for brides to help them get great photos on their wedding day?
Let go! Really! Let go of all the planning, the details, it’s done now. There’s nothing more to worry about or decide, so let go and really feel what the day is about. If you’re still worrying about details, you’re going to look worried and you’re going to miss opportunities to connect with people throughout the day. Connecting with people emotionally (including the groom!) makes for great photographs.
How important is it to hire an experienced wedding photographer?
Trust is important for creating great wedding photographs. In order to trust your photographer, you have to know that they are comfortable, flexible, and that they know what to expect. You can only get that through experience. Photography is not the wedding detail where you want to cut costs; there are lots of people out there today buying digital cameras and trying to make money with them, and they will undoubtedly charge you less. But wedding photography is fast-paced and combines commercial, portrait and journalistic photography with ever-changing lighting conditions and it takes at least a couple of years to become good at it, even for experienced portrait or journalistic photographers. If you want photographs you will be proud to show for years and you’re working in a tight budget, consider the cost of mistakes that an inexperienced person can make. Maybe there are things that can be cut that won’t mean quite as much in the years to come.
What do you find is the biggest challenge in wedding photography?
You have to be courageous when you’re a wedding photographer, as crazy as that might sound. You have to take risks and go outside your comfort zone to get creative shots. This is scary because you want to make your clients happy. If you screw up they’re not going to be happy, so you have to take calculated risks that are likely to pay off!
How would you describe your style of photography?
My style is primarily artful. It is photojournalistic but includes a healthy dose of portraits (directed shots) as well as details and imagery showing the mood of the wedding.
How would you describe the current state of the wedding photography industry, and where do you think wedding photography is headed in the years to come?
Because most wedding photographers post blogs or client galleries online and publicly, there are huge pressures for wedding photographers to produce outstanding work at each and every wedding. You’ve got to have the best and latest gear, you’ve got to have great branding and products or clients simply won’t continue to come to you. The top end of the wedding photography industry is becoming a highly competitive and talented group of people.
What (or who) inspires you?
I’m inspired by art and light everywhere, in magazines, interior design, in my everyday environment, movies, photojournalism and other wedding photographers. Contest galleries like the ISPWP publishes, are great collections to go to for inspiration.
What would you say was the biggest reason for your success?
Following my heart when I’m shooting.
Do you follow any photography blogs that you would recommend?
What future plans do you have for your business for the next year?
I constantly push myself and challenge myself to produce better images, to make that shot better, learn new techniques, reach for more!
What is the biggest challenge facing wedding photographers today?
Due to the digital era and the lower purchase price of decent cameras, the wedding photography market is getting saturated with low-end options. I try to see this as a positive influence; when I’m shooting and editing, I ask myself, “How can you differentiate this image from one that the bride’s uncle took with his digital SLR?” It’s no longer enough to take decent photographs with a nice camera and expect to make money or win awards. This pushes me to reach further, work harder, think more, and react faster, it’s the spirit of competition!
Thanks for the interview Emma! Use the comment section below to ask Emma a question or leave a comment.